Watching that new rink rise out of the ground downtown isn’t only a source of pride for citizens and fans of the Edmonton Oilers, it’s bumped the value of the franchise to $455 million, according to Forbes, which is more than double the $225 million the team was assessed at in 2011-12.
That, according to assessments made by Forbes, puts the Oilers as the NHL’s 12th most valuable franchise. You can read the entire item here and find an item specific to the Oilers here. That $455 million valuation is actually down from the $475 million valuation Forbes made for 2013-14.
No matter how you felt about proposals for the downtown arena and the surrounding area when owner Daryl Katz and the city were negotiating to take the project from proposals and blueprints to reality, there’s no doubt the valuation of the Oilers is tied directly to the deal struck in May of 2013.
Before that bit of business was at long last complete, the Oilers were valued at $225 million by Forbes for 2011-12. The Oilers rated last in the NHL in 2002-03 with a valuation of $91 million. In the latest Forbes valuation, the New York Rangers top all teams at $1.2 billion. The Montreal Canadiens are rated second at $1.18 billion.
The latest valuation of the Oilers is obviously a big win for Katz, but from where I sit, the Ice District is going to transform the entire downtown area for the better, whether you attend a single hockey game or not. As for Oiler fans, the Cadillac of NHL buildings will open for business for the 2016-17 season, when the Oilers return to the playoffs after a 10-year absence.
THE WAY IT SEE IT
We’ve kicked around the “visually better” angle since former GM Craig MacTavish uttered those words a couple of seasons ago, and there was more of the same after the Oilers kicked off a five-game road trip with a 1-0 loss to the Washington Capitals Monday.
“If anybody leaves the rink with their heads hanging down I’m going to kick them in the butt,” coach Todd McLellan said. “We’ve used the term ‘moral victory’ more than once this year. The points are very, very important in the standings, but the growth and the development of the team is just as important. We lost the points but grew as a team.”
That’s a tough sell, I know. The Oilers are 7-13-1 for 15 points and sit dead-last in NHL standings. Bottom line is that’s not good enough, but unless my eyes are playing tricks on my brain – that’s happened a time or two – what I’m seeing backs up what McLellan is saying even without digging into a pile of advanced stats. It doesn’t ring hollow. I don’t see that as giving the Oilers an easy out or a pass, I see it as reality.
The roster still needs work, but a corner has been turned a quarter of the way through the season in terms of structure and process in the way this team plays. If that continues, results will follow. It won’t happen quickly enough to vault the Oilers into playoff contention, even with the return of Connor McDavid, in the second half of the schedule, but I’ll be stunned if a turn north isn’t obvious to even the most cynical fan over the final 41 games this season.
WHILE I’M AT IT
For a prospect who was seen in many ways as a “risk-reward” guy, Darnell Nurse is exceeding expectations through his first dozen games this season. My biggest fear with Nurse was that he would try to do too much in the name of making an impact and would fall victim to the big mistake. For the most part, that hasn’t been the case.
It looks to me like Nurse is playing in safe-mode, and that’s not a knock. While Nurse hasn’t made a big splash, he hasn’t put himself in McLellan’s bad books by playing out of position looking for big hits or making hair-on-fire rushes up ice. That’s smart. Once Nurse gains McLellan’s trust, he’ll get a longer leash. Good plan.
Of course Nail Yakupov misses McDavid. Everybody on the Oilers roster does. In the case of Yakupov, though, the absence of McDavid has underlined what a lot of fans already suspected about Yakupov – he’s a complementary player who can follow if he’s plugged in with the right linemates, but he isn’t capable of leading.
Yakupov has scored 2-9-11 so far this season, but has managed just one assist in the eight games he’s played since McDavid broke his collarbone. I see a player who works hard enough, but not smart enough. I see a player capable of contributing offensively in a third-line role, but not a player who does enough things well to be counted on regularly for top-six minutes. I see a player who has already been surpassed in terms of development by Leon Draisaitl.
- Every indication is Justin Schultz will be ready to play against Carolina on Wednesday or in Detroit Friday, meaning we’re likely to see somebody get a ticket to Bakersfield of the AHL. The likeliest candidate for that, as has been mentioned multiple times already, is Griffin Reinhart.
- Won’t be surprised if Lauri Korpikoski gets a one-game suspension for the elbow he landed on Jay Beagle in Washington Monday. That’s a textbook targeted head shot if ever there was one.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.